Plain predictions Business Page
Stabroek News
December 30, 2001

BUSINESS PAGE is dedicated to providing objective information and issues of intrest to the business community and the public at large. The articles in Business page are prepared and contribuated by CHRISTOPHER RAM. Christopher Ram is the Managing Partner of Ram & McRae. Chartered Accountants, Professional Services Firm.

One year ago

Business Page is emboldened by the success of its predictions for the year 2001 - it was a staggering 50 per cent, which proves the statistical theory that if you spin a coin one hundred times, the chances of turning heads and tails are equal. I am not sure that Mr Carl Hooper believes this, or he probably thinks that it is some sort of jinx he picked up in Australia. The practice in this column of predicting the earth-shattering events in the coming year began at the turn of the century exactly one year ago; it therefore does not meet the definition of 'tradition' which requires that a phenomenon or practice continue for at least three occasions with a certain regularity or pattern. At the best of times and in the best of circumstances, predicting the future is a risky business and explains why fortune-tellers scrupulously avoid using their real identities. Guyana has the added complication that it is the only country where after nine years and three electoral victories, the government behaves as though it is the opposition and the opposition does not behave at all.

Strange how much more difficult it seems at this time to predict the events of the coming year. The big thing to look forward to last year were the national elections which retired politician and academic and artist Dr Rupert Roopnaraine dubs the 'racial census.' It is only political correctness would have prevented Mr Hoyte from publicly predicting the elections results within the statistically infamous margin of error of four per cent. No wonder that the claims of cheating and the stridency of the traditional (they meet the three test, 1992, 1997 and 2001) elections petition are so much more muted than before.

The other elections that had the world's attention at that time were those of the United States of America where some really funny things happened but were quickly forgotten. The events of 9/11 which apparently only Nostradamus had predicted some few centuries earlier however proved why it was necessary that the USA had as its President George W Bush. Can you imagine the now bearded Al Gore saying we will "smoke 'em out" or that "we will get him dead or alive"? With his Texan background, the family practice of waging war and a team comprising Coalin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Mike Singh and Donald Rumsfeld, George W was obviously the man for the occasion. Now if you do not know who Chief Hawk Mike Singh is, just ask the Stabroek News editors, they know everything and never make mistakes - it is always the printer's devil.

Year of the war

BP predicts that next year is the year of war largely because George W says so. America will have the opportunity to test in real death conditions some of its newest war toys such as those gadgets that will distinguish sympathetic from non-sympathetic individuals and friendly terrorists from the hostile ones. While the world concentrates on who is next, Israel will seek to wipe out Palestinian 'freedom fighters' once and for all. The next target in the campaign against terrorism will just happen to be an Islamic country but that will be pure coincidence and has nothing to do with the clash of civilisations or the West vs Islam. Self-styled President Musharraf of Pakistan is proof that some of America's best friends are Muslim even if they are military dictators as well.

The conduct of the President of Zimbabwe in terrorizing his countryfolk to keep himself in power will go largely unnoticed by the USA because it does not consider its strategic interest threatened and also by the UN whose head is himself an African. AIDS will continue to wreak havoc in Africa while the sabre-rattling Indians will pull back from a full-scale war with its neighbour, the afore-mentioned Pakistan which harbours legitimate terrorists in the Kashmir region. This will not be a year for the Third World which will hardly warrant a mention in the dispatches.

The extension of the war will cause some rift in the coalition which even the Honorary Vice President of the United States of America and sometimes Prime Minister of England, Mr Tony Blair, will be unable to hold together. Russia will stay firmly in to buy the West's silence on Chechnya which Russia will continue to occupy and rule with a military fist. China, forever thankful to the USA for its support on the WTO and the Olympics will be equally staunch, again however with its own domestic Muslim population in mind. Not unexpectedly the inherently undemocratic Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will offer more help than needed. The problems will come largely from the Europeans and particularly the damn French who because they do not speak English think they are different.

BP offers no prediction on OBL (Osama Bin Ladin) who as Don Rumsfeld has said is either (sic) in Afghanistan, Pakistan or some other country and is either dead or alive. President Bush was probably thinking of the Western Union ad when he said "we will gettim," suggesting that he has more information than Mr Rumsfeld.

The economy

Buoyed by the war efforts the number of homeless, jobless, foodless and moneyless will increase across the world. The recovery in the USA will take longer than expected not because Mr Greenspan has lost his magic but because he suddenly realises that he cannot reduce interest rate below zero. In Guyana those businesses that expect a gloomy economy in 2002 will be more or less correct subject to a margin of error of four per cent. The eighty-two per cent "that expect their turnover to increase" (Business Outlook Survey 2002) will be more or less incorrect. Notwithstanding this Benjie the Magician will report that the economy will have shown a real growth in GDP which the leader of the real GDP, Mr Asgar Ally, (one of the country's growing list of unemployed politicians) will dispute.

Elections madness

In the twin-island Republic of T&T where Mr Patrick Manning gained the nod by the not so ceremonial President ANR Robinson, there will be real ol' mass and calls for new elections by the allegedly not-so-moral Mr Panday. The country that holds two of cricket's most coveted records has the added distinction of being the only country in the world with a PM chosen on moral grounds.

In Guyana, thankfully, there will be no national elections but not even for the sake of Hammie can local government elections be delayed any longer. There will be nothing local about those elections in which the national dinosaurs will fight for access to and control of funds. Nor will the elections be about government or governance, concepts even more foreign to local than national government. Hammie will seriously consider accepting an offer from the PPP/Civic to be their mayoral candidate causing the dormant CRC to rush through term-limit amendments. In the likely event that he does not return as mayor, Hammie will take to the streets with his moral revival campaign but his chief and only remaining lieutenant, Robert, will declare that "he is on his own." Hammie's fundraising skills should provide enough to ensure a comfortable living in his senior years.

The President and Mr Hoyte

Mr Hoyte after some subtle and other not-so-gentle hints from friends and colleagues will give way to a surprising and not so young successor as leader of the PNC which will maintain a token Reform component with the result Mrs Jonas will rule that it only deserves a very common r. Unlike Mr Green, Mr Hoyte will retire to his study to write his very selective memoirs in which he will blame the streets for his electoral failures, in contradiction to the Roopnaraine ethnic-census theory. With Mr Hoyte off the scene, President Jagdeo (I-Man) will have no one to dialogue with and will use the opportunity to write a thesis on the uniquely Guyanese management principle "The Buck does not stop here - it gets worse." The only problem for the poor President is that Robb Street has mandated that HPS Luncheon be appointed to edit and convolute this magnum opus which in his inimical style will take years and prevent it from making it into the Harvard Business Review.

Meanwhile the scorecard for the Dialogue will read: PPP/Civic - Peace without prosperity; PNC-r: a board here and a board there - all complete boards!

The President will also be formulating job descriptions for his ministers and advisers, an exercise that would be greatly facilitated if he asked the ministers and advisers to list their achievements in the preceding twelve months. This should result in some very short job descriptions indeed. To enable these persons to maintain their Prado- lifestyle, however, this major human resources exercise will not include any performance-related pay.


The Report of the Auditor General will be replete with the depressing SOS (same old story) except that the $'s are now greater and the evidence more egregious. Member of Parliament Stanley Ming will again threaten to resign from that rather cushy job and to carry out his pledge to withhold his taxes. Mr Ming will be aided and abetted by his accountant and attorney who do not need to threaten to withhold taxes - like Nike says, they just do it!

Stabroek News will put a halt to the Naipaul's correspondence and MP Ravi Dev will have to find another issue to remain in the public eye. Ravi has learnt faster than his GAP-WPA counterparts that nothing mangles a political career as a seat on the opposition benches in Parliament. One has to admire, if you can, Mr Manzoor Nadir's survival instincts and ideological acrobatics which have blurred the distinction between the PPP/C and the TUF.

In cricket, the West Indies will prove that things can and do get worse while in boxing, Six Head will have to consult with Chanderpaul or King on a uniquely Guyanese ailment that will prevent him from meeting Moseley and therefore save his crown.

Finally, one prediction I am prepared to risk my life on - the much tested Sunday Editor (bless her sweet soul) will stop accepting frivolous excuses and will deal condignly with those prima donnas who think they can submit their work in less than forty-eight hours. Business Page is not prepared to incur such wrath. One final one - Business Page will continue to agonise whether it is worth the effort and whether indeed anyone reads the Page!

A happy new year to all!